The love letter - Jean Honoré Fragonard
Love letter - J.H. Fragonard
 
What do Franco Battiato and Elvis Presley have in common? Both did a cover of the same Art Song, a French romance, to be more precise. Other pop singers at some point in their career have also made an incursion into Art Song. This is what this post is about.

We are listening to some versions as sample, but as we have already listened to many of the original songs, I made "a posteriori" list with the related posts. This way you can go over them if you feel like it; I added a comment in every post with a link to the pop version in Youtube. Whenever we talk about other covers, I'll add them to the list; Also, if you happen to know another posted Lied that went Pop, please let me know and I'll do the same.

Disclaimer: some of the performances might offend your sensibility. Now that I warned you, shall we start?
 
  • In 1945, Frank Sinatra sang None But The Lonely Hearts, a song that was played one year before in the homonymous film. The soundtrack’s composer was an old friend of us, Hanns Eisler, who included this song, an English version of Net, tol'ko tot, Tchaicovsky's version of Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, one of the Wilhelm Meister's songs. In short: Sinatra singing Goethe. Here you are.
  • The next in our list are The Platters, who in 1957 made a version of Ständchen, by Schubert, named My serenade. It was one of his most famous songs, does it sound familiar?
  • The film Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis Presley, was premiered in 1961. In that movie Presley sang Can't help falling in love, a song that was very similar to Plaisir d'amour, the song by Jean-Paul Martini. The composers (George Weiss, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore) claimed that it was a tribute to Martini, although evil tongues might say that it was a plagiarism being justified a posteriori. As you see, in this vídeo, Presley says that it's an European love song that he's singing in his own language.
  • ⦁ Barbra Streisand released a LP in 1976, "Classical Barbra" in which she sings, among other classical pieces, five Art Songs, all of them in their original language. We heard one of them on this blog, Mondnacht. In 2003, a remastered edition of the album was published including two more lieder we have listened previously, An Silvia and Auf dem Wasser zu singen. That's the link to Streisand's Mondnacht.
  • Nana Mouskouri is a singer who has covered many classical works, either vocal or not (if there aren’t any lyrics, she would made them up). In 1988, she released the album "Classique" which featured two Art Songs we already have in our list of covered songs, Plaisir d'amour and Ständchen, and a new one,Der Lindenbaum. Here you are.
  • We end our tour with Franco Battiato and his album "Come un cammello in una grondaia" (1991), which includes four versions of Lieder, among them Gestillte Sehnsucht and... yes, Plaisir d'amour. That's Battiato singingGestillte Sehnsucht.
There is a song that, on purpose, I left off the list, this is Schubert's Ave Maria, because Schubert never wrote any Ave Maria. He wrote a Lied, Ellen Gesangs III, from a fragment of Walter Scott's poem The Lady of the Lake but decades after his death, someone literally stuffed the latin Ave Maria into the music. There are many versions of this piece. I also left out the songs that, as we said on the post about Los pájaros perdidos, had a double life as a chamber song and folk song from their composition.

To end this post, we're listening to Plaisir d'amour, a song with many covers (among others, Joan Baez and Marianne Faithfull, also sang it). Martini wrote it in 1784, the same year that the poem by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian was published. It's probably the best example of romance, the French song before mélodie, a genre that was popular especially at court and among the aristocracy; it's said that it was Marie Antoinette’s favourite song.

To be honest with you, this song doesn’t tell me much; I think that it improves when Fritz Wunderlich (or Elvis Presley) sings it, and that's our version (the one of Wunderlich). The song was originally written with fortepiano's accompaniment but we are listening to the orchestral accompaniment, I don't know who the composer is. Wunderlich is accompanied by The Graunke Symphony Orchestra (nowadays the Munich Symphony Orchestra) conducted by Hans Carstein.
 
Plaisir d'amour 
 

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment:
Chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

J'ai tout quitté pour l'ingrate Sylvie;
Elle me quitte et prend un autre amant.

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment:
Chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

"Tant que cette eau coulera doucement
Vers ce ruisseau qui borde la prairie,
Je t'aimerai," me répétait Sylvie,
L'eau coule encor, elle a changé pourtant.

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment:
Chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

The pleasure of love only lasts one moment;
The regret of love lasts one's whole life.

I left everything for the ungrateful Sylvie;
She leaves me and takes another lover.

The pleasure of love only lasts one moment;
The regret of love lasts one's whole life.

"As long as this water flows softly
Toward this brook that borders the plain
I will love you," repeated Sylvie to me.
The water still flows, she has changed however.

The pleasure of love only lasts one moment;
The regret of love lasts one's whole life.

 (translation © Barbara Miller, )
 
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